Thousands of frontline workers across the country have started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rhonda Stuart, head of infection control at Monash Health, was the first Victorian to roll up her sleeve and receive the Pfizer vaccine on Monday morning at 7:30 a.m.
“I am really proud to receive this vaccine and to start the next chapter of our work against COVID,” she told reporters.
“From now on, the objective is to have all our health workers vaccinated and to also make them public.”
Each state and territory has received an allocation of the Pfizer vaccine, which is now administered to medical staff, hotel quarantine officers, airport and port workers, as well as senior and resident care staff.
South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall took to social media to say it was ‘great to get my shot’.
“It’s safe. It’s free. It’s voluntary,” he wrote.
The Prime Minister, the State Police Commissioner and health officials leading the COVID-19 charge were among the first to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in South Australia.
After the arrival of 4,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, the long-awaited rollout began Monday morning with SA targeting frontline workers in the initial phase.
In New South Wales, the deployment began at Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals in Sydney, where uniformed police lined up.
Some 500 recipients, deemed to be at high risk through their close work with confirmed and potential cases of the coronavirus, received the blow at RPA, where Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian promoted the benefits of vaccination.
“By the end of October, I hope everyone who is offered the vaccine in NSW, which should be the general population, will have it by then,” said she declared.
“It means we can think about the settings, the overseas travel, the easing of restrictions.”
“People who get the vaccine today are literally putting their own health on the line every day. It’s easy for us to forget that. But I was so thrilled and overwhelmed that those who have
protected us all and welcomed us into their homes. The Australians were the first to take the blow.
“I can’t wait for my turn when the AstraZeneca arrives, and I really hope people take the opportunity. This has been a huge relief for me personally as it is definitely a new phase in the fight against COVID, ”Ms. Berejiklian said.
A thousand people are expected to receive the vaccination on Monday at the three hospitals.
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‘Amazing that we have come to this point’
Professor Stuart’s team treated Victoria’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 in January of last year and hundreds more since.
“It’s been 14 months since we saw the first patient. It’s so amazing that we’ve come to this point where we can immunize people to protect ourselves from this, it’s really wonderful, ”she said.
About 100 health workers will be vaccinated Monday at Monash Medical Center, one of the state’s three active vaccination centers.
Nurse Rachel Hogben, who manages the intensive care unit at Dandenong Hospital, said she felt relieved to receive the blow.
“I’m actually a little more emotional than I thought. Very relieved, ”she said.
“I feel like this is the way to go… we are not acting defensively against it anymore, we are now on the offensive and it’s an amazing day.”
Victoria’s deputy health director Allen Cheng said he hoped the vaccine rollout was the start of the end of the state’s long battle against COVID-19.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done and it feels like it took a long time to get to that starting line, but I think it really gives us hope that you know it’s starting to not be so much of a problem as it was last year, ”he told National Radio on TBEN.
Austin Health and Western Health will also begin administering the vaccine.
Other recipients in line to immediately receive the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine include quarantine workers at hotels, airports and ports, as well as elderly care staff and residents.
The federal government is expected to allocate 59,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine to Victoria in the first four weeks of the program.
It comes as Victoria has recorded a third consecutive day without a local case of COVID-19, after 8,277 tests.
There are 25 active cases across the state.